Working for Baptist Women in Ministry has opened doors for me to wonderful new friendships, including a friendship with Susan Sparks. Susan is the pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York. I have “known” Susan now for a couple years, but I met her “live and in person” for the first time in Tampa at our BWIM gathering. She was the speaker for our lunch.

Susan is not only a pastor, she is a standup comedian. So we invited her to share some of her story–and to make us laugh. But if I am really honest with you, I must confess that I kind of dreaded meeting her . . . I was a bit worried that after waiting so long to actually meet her that I might not like her as much as I was thinking I would. Well, let me assure you that I was NOT disappointed. Susan “in person” is even more amazing than Susan “via email” or  Susan “on facebook.” She is warm and friendly, kind and gracious–as well as brilliant and funny. Our lunch crowd fell in love with her, and I did too.

And lots of folks at the lunch went home with a signed copy of Susan’s book, Laugh Your Way to Grace: Reclaiming the Spiritual Power of Humor. If you haven’t read it, the theme that runs through the book is that humor and healing are connected. Susan’s writes, ” Humor offers a revolutionary, yet simple, spiritual paradigm: If you can laugh at yourself, you can forgive yourself. And if you can forgive yourself, you can forgive others.” And she is so right!

If you want to know more about Susan, visit her website–it has lots of photos of cool cowboy boots! Or read the ABP article written about her by Norm Jameson. Or go to New York, visit her church, hear her preach. I bet she would greet you with a big hug and a smile . . . because that is indeed, who she is!

Pam Durso is the executive director of Baptist Women in Ministry, Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo courtesy of Emily Holladay, Baptist superstar and Cooperative Baptist Fellowship photographer).